Mark Kaboly, is a local sportswriter covering the Steelers who has now moved from the Trib to DK on Pittsburgh Sports, a pay-only site run by former Trib and Post-Gazette writer Dejan Kovacevic. Kaboly does a series of Q and As, and in the last one got the following question:
When Shazier or Williams get hurt, who do you see as the number 3 inside linebacker?
Somebody who is not on the roster. And way to be positive there, but I get your point. That’s been the biggest fail by the Steelers in this offseason — depth at ILB.
The final position I’m going to cover in this series is the inside linebackers. In theory I ought to address the tight ends and the kicking team, but the former was at least touched upon in the receivers post and the latter lacks drama at the moment, thank heavens.
One of the biggest questions this off-season, which has now been answered, was what was going to happen with the Lawrence Timmons situation. It’s interesting that I find myself thinking that Timmons to the Dolphins was probably a good outcome for everyone. He gets more money than the Steelers were willing to give him, the Steelers have Vince Williams, who has played reasonably well (or better) when called upon, and there is still the possibility of picking up a young guy to complement Ryan Shazier, who is rapidly becoming a star in the interior. Read more
I first ran across the old expression “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good” in a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, back in my teenage days. It took me a bit to figure out what on earth it meant, but I finally did. It is particularly apropos for the Steelers at the moment.
The news that Bud Dupree is going on IR was not something any of us wanted to hear. But it did result in one minor consolation—Steven Johnson, the linebacker I hated to see go, is back in the black and gold, only about 24 hours or so after he first parted ways with the Steelers.
And for that matter there was some good news in terms of the practice squad. The Steelers didn’t lose Travis Feeney, who I personally think has a lot of upside but also a long way to go. Running back Brandon Brown-Dukes, who Tomlin liked well enough to give a nickname, is back, as is fellow RB Cameron Stingily. I wondered if the fumble he had on his sole carry in the Carolina game would doom him, but fortunately the coaching staff is a bit more far-sighted than we are.
It was another minimally inspiring preseason game. The backup quarterback for Carolina, Joe Webb, played the whole game.
The Steelers sent out an assortment of back-ups as well. DeAngelo Williams made it on the field only once, for the coin toss, as the Steelers made him the sole captain for this game. He spent most of the time hugging his former teammates.
Landry Jones played three series, resulting in a three and out, a six and out (if there is such a thing) and a three and out.
Just about the only many busier than Jordan Berry last night was the Panther’s kicker Graham Gano, who was six for seven on the night.
Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports
In Part 1 I named four pairs of “either-or” guys for my final roster prediction. Today I’m going to address what may be the most difficult pair, that of Tyler Matakevich or Steven Johnson. Honestly, I don’t want to see either of them go.
Matakevich is one of the guys I think would either not make it to the practice squad or would be poached from it.
Steven Johnson brings a lot to the table in terms of experience. Both of them seem to be fine human beings.
But for them both to make the 53-man roster there would almost certainly have to be a serious injury to someone the defense can ill afford to lose. So let’s look at what they did in Game Three, at New Orleans.
Keith Srakocic/AP Photo
Note: the Steelers do not distinguish between inside and outside linebackers on their roster, and I’ve made a few assumptions which may or may not be correct, or current. Hopefully I’ve gotten it right…
The good news is that the Steelers, despite losing Sean Spence and Terence Garvin to free agency, are currently overloaded at the position. This is, of course, the bad news for some guys looking to make the team.
Perhaps a more appropriate title for this post would have been “A Football Life in the Slow Lane.” Nothing has been easy for Pennsylvania native Steven Johnson, except perhaps his decision to sign a one-year contract with the Steelers in March.
Johnson has played football for essentially his whole life. He was never the strongest or the fastest or the most obviously gifted player. But all he wanted was an opportunity. And opportunities have seemingly been few and far between.